“Welcome to Mega Video!”
“Well thanks for having us!” Dad said like a dork as we scattered. It was me, Dad, Mom, Jenna, and Millie. The store was packed. One, because it was a Friday night, and two because Alien Blasters II had just come out on video.
I always loved the video store but something about the weekends really brought the place to life. It was all lit up like a carnival with the flashing marquee lights and big golden arrows on the red carpet guiding us to the new arrivals. I headed straight for the A’s. Mom and Millie strolled to the kid section. Jenna just kind of sulked. She was still fuming about getting grounded last week, and being forced to hang out with us was making her flat-out miserable
I knew ABII would be gone but I couldn’t help hoping for a miracle. I may have been the only person in my school who hadn’t seen it at the theater, because Dad thought that paying five bucks for a matinee was a fool’s errand. But now, seeing some long haired guy at the shelf shaking his head and staring at all the glossy boxes without tapes behind them, reality hit hard.
“Nope,” the guy said waving his hand towards the display with the giant alien on the cover, its snarl revealing razor sharp teeth dripping with alien spit.
“All checked out?” Dad asked.
“Yep,” the man said. I knew it. At this rate I wouldn’t get to see ABII until aliens actually landed on earth and performed it onstage.
“Maybe I can go ask the guy if they have one up front. Sometimes they just haven’t shelved them yet.”
I nodded, but what I was really thinking was, Fat chance. The whole store was covered in Alien Blaster posters and cardboard cut outs. And I already knew they didn’t hold videos. I’d called a million times already.
While Dad scurried off, I roamed the rest of the new releases. A guy and a girl were arguing over the newest Tom Hanks’ movie. She was all like, “It looks so good,” and he was just kind of nodding, but in a way that I could tell meant that he’d rather give his dog a bath. Then they started making out, right there in the store in front of me. Gross. At least go do that in the foreign films section where no one would see you.
In the C’s I found Jenna. I think she was going through withdrawal’s having not been on the phone for nearly twenty minutes because every movement she made announced how torturous it was for her to be there. We’d probably have a million messages when we got home and Dad would complain about her tying up the line. Their fights were pretty predictable.
“This is so lame,” she said, her bracelets jingling as she crossed her arms.
“I know, they only have ten copies of Alien Blasters.”
She rolled her eyes. Jenna was an excellent eye roller, and versatile too, she could go left to right, right to left, up or down, depending on the situation. “No, I mean being here on a Friday night,” she said glancing around. “I hope I don’t see anyone I know.”
“But wouldn’t that mean they were lame too, if they were here?”
Her arms fell noisily to her sides. “Like, seriously? You’re such a dork.”
Millie’s squeal rippled through the store. I guessed that she’d found either Fraggle Rock or the Care Bears. Tough call, but my parents should just go ahead and by them both as much as they rented them. I was kind of hoping she’d pick The Princess Bride again. Not that I’d ever admit it, but it was actually pretty decent. Better than the freaking Care Bears at least.
Jenna huffed off to a corner just as Dad called over to me. Over the entire store really. “They’re all checked out. Won’t be back until Sunday. Hey, they do have Monkey Wrench.”
Every head turned back to me. Even the make out couple stopped to laugh. I cringed. My dad would just yell anything out in public. Monkey Wrench was my favorite movie….two years ago…when I was nine. But I was eleven now, in middle school, what was he thinking? I ducked down, acting like I was interested in something on the shelf. Maybe Jenna was right, maybe they were clueless.
I was always last. I’d made it to the T’s, but everyone was waiting for me, all huddled around the checkout. But it was a tough call. There was one about a detective who thinks he’s been hypnotized, and another silly one about spies in space. But I was in the mood for something else. I wasn’t sure what exactly I wanted. Of course all television sets were showing a loop of previews for ABII, which didn't help my concentration.
Mom came up behind me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “See anything you like?”
I shrugged, “Well, since the rated R movies are off limits, no.”
Mom chuckled, her eyes roaming the selections.
“So how long is Jenna grounded?”
“Well, Dad wanted to ground her for the year but I think we can work something out.”
I nodded, Mom reached out for a video but didn’t pick it up. I weighed my two options. “Are you really thinking about letting her stay with Aunt Pat for the summer?”
Mom let out a sigh, “We’re not sure sweetie, we just, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
I’d heard the fights from my room. Jenna was ditching school and sneaking out—regularly. Mom and Dad thought a change of scenery might help. A change of state even. It was pretty intense, and even though Jenna and I weren’t exactly as tight as we used to be, I didn’t want her sent away or anything.
Mom looked tired just talking about it. She bent down, picking up some sapper with a guy and a girl just standing in a field on the cover. Sparrow Hill or something cheesy, it looked about as action-packed as changing my socks. “Are you going to make Dad watch a snoozer after we go to bed?”
Her eyes flashed to life. “You know, your dad kind of likes these movies.”
“Yeah right,” I snorted. There was no way. I turned to find Dad. He’d hoisted Millie up on his shoulders, probably just to humiliate Jenna, who held a hand over her eyes for cover. Mom set the tape back on the shelf.
“Okay, one more minute. I think your sister is dying over there.”
At the checkout, Dad and the girls headed for the car. I hung back with Mom while she paid the late fee on our account, and with Dad out of the picture I was able to talk her into splurging on the microwave popcorn. Score. The doors dinged and donged with the coming and goings of customers. Just as the clerk took our movies I grabbed Mom’s arm.
“I changed my mind.”
She closed her eyes. “Hurry.”
We piled into the back seat, Jenna and I at the windows and Millie in the middle. Backing out, Dad sang along with the radio. It was dark, but I didn’t need to see to know that Jenna was doing some serious eye rolling over there. But I think she’d lightened up a little. It was Friday night after all, plus we were stopping to pick up some Domino's. Life wasn’t exactly terrible.
On the way home the car smelled like warm delicious pizza. Dad asked what movie we decided to rent and Mom leaned over the seat, looking back with a smile.
“Monkey Wrench,” I mumbled.
“What? You did not!” Jenna snapped. She unglued her face from the window. I squirmed in my seat.
“Mom wanted it.”
“Oh my gosh,” Jenna gushed, leaning over Millie. “Remember when you used to watch that like, all the time?” I nodded. It was the first thing she’d said without reminding us how lame we were.
“Monkey Wrench!” yelled Millie.
“What’s a monkey to do without his wrench?” Dad said in a funny voice. Jenna actually laughed. Then Millie started cackling and Dad turned up the radio and Mom bobbed along to the beat. I just smiled in the dark. Because it was nice.
For a moment, we were all together.